APRIL 3, 2007
I stand by yesterday’s claim that the film did not need to be 109 minutes.
However, I must... BEGRUDGINGLY (!!!) admit that The Grudge 2 was slightly better than I expected. I was no fan of the original, and I assumed this would be worse, but I think I actually liked it more. It’s still a mess of a film, but I wasn’t left angered, like I was after the original. And it began with a man being killed with a frying pan.
I am not sure if we are supposed to know right off the bat that the Amber Tamblyn storyline takes place 2 years before the others, it seems like we are supposed to be surprised, but the 3rd or 4th line of the film reveals that Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character started a fire ‘2 years ago’ and then Tamblyn is shown flying to Japan to make sure she’s OK a day or so after the fire. So I have no idea. It’s not like I can just ask the writer.
Either way the story is pretty thin. Since we got all the backstory in the first film, there’s little to do here other than watch more people get killed. There’s some investigation and a visit to the ghost’s mother, but it goes nowhere.
There is a bit of a mean streak in the film, which I think helped me enjoy it as much as I did (which again, wasn’t much, but certainly more than I thought I would). The blond chick pisses her pants (which is actually a towel so the urine splatter is pretty wide), the little kid in Chicago finds his whole family dead, and Tamblyn watches Gellar plummet and splatter to her death a few feet away. Hahahahaha.
Gellar’s death isn’t very surprising, since she makes only one or two shots in the ad and is also listed as “AND Sarah Michelle Gellar” (though strangely top-billed at the end, a lá Christopher Lambert in Mortal Kombat). Instead, she went off to make The Return, a film which everyone in the world (at least, the other 98 people who saw it) hated, except for me and my good friend Matt. *sigh*
In addition, there are a few shots here and there that prove Shimizu knows how to pull off effective shots. Like when the bizarrely imported character of Eason ("I pulled your sister out of the fire." OK, sure, why not.) sees the ghost on a videotape, then shuts the TV off and the ghost is reflected on the blank screen in the same spot. Or when Gellar’s running thru her 2nd (of two) scenes and the ghost is barely glimpsed behind a group of hilariously nonchalant doctors. Good stuff.
And I must laud writer Steven Susco for providing us with one of cinema’s true rarities: A teenaged girl who actually likes her stepmother. She helps her move in, talks about clothes with her… it’s refreshing to see.
He also provides the character with an incredibly hot friend who randomly pukes milk.
Since the movie is less a cohesive narrative and more just a collection of scenes (indeed, nearly every scene fades to black and the next fades in. Perhaps the subtitle of the film should have been “Meanwhile….”), the outcome is not surprising: some scenes are pretty good, others are worthless. Put the DVD in and find your own favorites!
Speaking of the DVD, there’s a fascinating featurette that is worth the price of stealing the DVD from Blockbuster alone. It concerns the process of mixing the J-Horror and American Horror styles when trying to develop the film (one guy dismisses American horror films as being about “crazy people trying to kill a bunch of people in a certain area”. Apparently he only watches John Carpenter films*). The poor sod who had to write the script based on these conflicting ideas is sadly absent, but it’s still pretty fascinating, and kudos to Sony for including it when it includes such sentiments as “the studio’s ideas were boring” (paraphrase). It is also during this featurette that we are given what may be history’s first subtitle spacing based faux pas:
Hahahah (for the record, the rest of the sentence was like ‘unless I liked the story’). There’s also a collection of deleted scenes that, unintentionally or not, reveal what a goddamn mess the production of this film must have been (Eason shows up in the schoolgirls’ storyline, when he would have been dead for two years if you follow the storyline in the finished product).
I should note that the girl in the schoolgirl story may possibly be the only girl in history I find more attractive with short blond hair (as she is shown in the extras) than with long dark hair, which I usually prefer. Huh. Perhaps I’m maturing.
What say you?
*Carpenter has done a ‘folks trapped in a place’ movie 5 times: Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, Ghosts of Mars, and the 2nd half of The Fog.